Keri Arthur is a 'high priestess in the world of vampire fiction', so says Romantic Times. And we couldn't agree more (but add in werewolves, dragons, etc, too)! So when the High Priestess granted Piatkus an audience to answer some questions in honour of Darkness Unmasked (her latest Dark Angels instalment) we felt duty obliged to fall at her feet and grovel like the worms we are on the temple floor.
This is your 5th book (and your 6th is coming up soon)! Did you have your character pathways lined up or did they develop some surprises over the years? Would you ever be able to say your characters had minds of their own?
I'm naturally a pantzer, which basically means I don't plot, I just write. However, recent contracts have requested I hand in an outline about three months before the book is due, so these days I do have a somewhat clear path from beginning to end. Which doesn't mean the story and the characters don't throw up some surprises! There's a couple of events in Darkness Unmasked that certainly weren't in the outline—they just appeared as I was writing. That's what I love about writing—even with an outline, I often don't know what the characters or the story will do next!
Where you do write – do you have an office, a nook, a porch swing? Do you have a picture of this haven for our readers?
I write in my study, but at the moment it's a complete and utter mess. I've been renovating my house (a drama that has gone on for over a year now, and it's still not finished!) and there's boxes and rubbish and dust everywhere. Here's a pic, just to show how bad it is at the moment!
Is there a moment where you decided, ‘Yes, I am going to write this down!’ Or did it come naturally and gradually? Was there never anything else for you to do with your career?
I actually started writing when I was about 12. The author of a book I was reading killed off a favourite side character, and I was so annoyed that I put the book down and started writing my own version. I've been writing ever since, but I didn't get serious about it until after I had my daughter. It took nearly ten years for me to become published. As for other careers—I've been a clerk at the Bureau of Meteorology, and a cook/chef at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Essendon Football Club (and have the knife scars to prove it!)
On publication day, what do you do to celebrate?
It varies, but this time I shouted myself a ticket to Star Trek, Into Darkness. Love that movie!
(side note: Piatkus thinks Benedict Cumberbatch is a dream, so this insight into Keri Arthur made us all the happier!)
Do you have a favourite character and book?
My favourite character/series is usually the one I'm working on at the time. I can't be fickle; if I don't love what I'm working on, then I just can't write it
Which of your heroine do you think you’re most like?
Actually, I think my characters are more what I'd like to be like. None of them are actually 'me' as such; they just all have characteristics that I'd like to have, if that makes sense.
Vampires, Angels, Werewolves – genre fiction remains fantastically varied! What do you think will be the next hot genre?
I think predicting this is along the same lines as picking the lottery numbers—almost impossible! Lol. I'd like to think that phoenix and dragons will be the next hot item when it comes to urban fantasy, as I have a new series coming out next year featuring a phoenix heroine and a dragon side-kick.
What’s been your favourite UK cover so far?
I've loved all my UK covers, but given the cover art for Dangerous Games is the current template for my website, I guess I'd have to say that one.
Could you give us three tips for aspiring romance writers?
The one tip I'd give all writers is write what you love. You have to, because, with any sort of luck, you're going to be writing it for a while once you're published!
I guess another tip is don't give up. I spent ten years getting nothing but rejections, so I know how tough they can be, but I've seen too many good writers give up just as they were on the cusp of acceptance.
My last tip would be this; understand what you're signing. If you haven't got an agent, then do your research before you sign anything. There's sometimes clauses in contracts that can catch the unwary, and it's in your best interests to understand exactly what you're signing away. There's plenty of sites on the net that provide explanations. There's also contract lawyers who will help you contract by contract for one-off fees.
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